Integrated Energy Policy Report 2008 Update

Docket # 08-IEP-1, et.al.

The 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Committee oversaw this proceeding was:

Jeffrey D. Byron,
Commissioner and Presiding Member
Pfannenstiel,
Chairman and Associate Member

2008 IEPR Update Commission Report

2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update
Adopted November 20, 2008.
Publication # CEC-100-2008-008-CMF.
(PDF file, 146 pgs., 5.5 MB)



Executive Summary

Senate Bill 1389 (Bowen, Chapter 568, Statutes of 2002) requires the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) to "conduct assessments and forecasts of all aspects of energy industry supply, production, transportation, delivery and distribution, demand, and prices." The Energy Commission uses these assessments and forecasts to develop energy policies that conserve resources, protect the environment, ensure energy reliability, enhance the state's economy, and protect public health and safety. The Energy Commission prepares these assessments and associated policy recommendations every two years in the Integrated Energy Policy Report, with updates in alternate years.

The 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update assesses progress on the energy programs and policy recommendations that are critical to meeting California's energy and related environmental goals. The Energy Commission's Integrated Energy Policy Report Committee identified critical topics for the 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update at a public scoping hearing on April 28, 2008. After considering stakeholder feedback, the Committee focused on the following five areas:

  1. Physical, operational, and market changes necessary for California's electric system to support a minimum of 33 percent renewables by 2020.

  2. Evaluation of the interaction between the state's energy efficiency goals and programs with the Energy Commission's demand forecasting methods.

  3. Status of recommended changes to electricity procurement practices to standardize assumptions, extend the period of analysis, and more adequately incorporate risk in the portfolio of projected resources.

  4. Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station nuclear power plants, as required by Assembly Bill 1632 (Blakeslee, Chapter 722, Statutes of 2006), to determine potential vulnerabilities to a major disruption from a major seismic event or plant aging.

  5. Evaluation of the California Public Utilities Commission's Self-Generation Incentive Program to determine the costs and benefits of providing ratepayer subsidies for renewable and fossil fuel "ultraclean and low-emission distributed generation" as required by Assembly Bill 2778 (Lieber, Statutes of 2006, Chapter 617).

The 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update also reports on the state's progress in implementing policy recommendations from past Integrated Energy Policy Reports. This review is intended to ensure that California is on track in meeting the state's energy policy goals while meeting California's need for affordable, safe, and environmentally acceptable energy choices.


California's Renewable Future

Since 2002, California has had a mandate to increase the use of renewable generation to 20 percent of retail electricity sales by 2010. On November 17, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-14-08, which raises California's renewable energy goals to 33 percent by 2020. This enhanced target will help California meet the aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 1990 levels by 2020.

The Energy Commission believes the state can reach the 33 percent renewables target by 2020. There are, however, major barriers to achieving this goal, including: the need for transmission additions and upgrades to access renewable resource areas; the challenges associated with integrating large amounts of renewable resources into the state's electricity system; the impacts of renewable contract delays or cancellations; potential cost and rate impacts of adding renewables to the system; and permitting issues for renewable generation facilities in environmentally sensitive areas.

The Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative was established to help address transmission barriers by identifying and ranking renewable resource zones and broadly identifying the transmission needed to access those zones. Because environmental and land use issues can delay the development of transmission projects, the Energy Commission will continue to work closely with stakeholders in the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative process to ensure that these issues are evaluated and considered.The Energy Commission also recognizes the importance and benefits of joint transmission projects between investor-owned and publicly owned utilities and will use the 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report forum to identify strategies to reduce barriers to these joint projects. In addition, the Energy Commission believes that transmission-related research, development, and demonstration efforts and funding should be significantly increased to identify technologies and strategies that can help integrate renewable resources.

Integrating large amounts of variable and intermittent resources like wind into California's electricity system is challenging. The state should focus on identifying energy storage technologies with the most promise of providing grid stability and improved operations, reducing the costs of those technologies, and accelerating their commercialization. Improved forecasting techniques are also needed to give grid operators information to make real-time decisions about electricity scheduling and dispatch. The state also needs to expand efforts to include renewable generation at the distribution level, such as community-scale photovoltaics or small wind, to reduce electricity loads and the need for upgrades to the transmission system. Similarly, increased use of renewable technologies for heating and cooling, like solar thermal water heating and geothermal ground-source heat pumps, could reduce electricity loads while also decreasing the use of fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Contract delays or cancellations for renewable projects continue to be a barrier to meeting California's renewable goals. Thirty five percent of the contracts signed under the Renewables Portfolio Standard have been either delayed (25 percent) or cancelled (10 percent). There also continues to be a need for greater transparency in the evaluation and selection of electricity providers. Independent parties, such as the California Public Utilities Commission or independent evaluators and not utilities, should review, select, and rank renewable procurement proposals. The investor-owned utilities should also be required to provide aggregated information on Renewables Portfolio Standard contract prices to assure policy makers that these contracts are meeting state energy policy goals and providing economic value to the state. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission should make public the aggregate amount of above-market funds that are being allocated to Renewables Portfolio Standard contracts. To help encourage renewable development and provide price certainty to renewable developers, the California Public Utilities Commission should immediately implement a program to provide standardized contracts and prices for renewable projects smaller than 20 megawatts while continuing to evaluate expanding such a program to renewable projects larger than 20 megawatts.

The Energy Commission will evaluate impacts of a 33 percent renewable target on natural gas demand and prices, as well as the impacts of regional changes in natural gas supply and demand on California's natural gas market, to better understand the cost and price impacts of higher renewable targets. The Energy Commission will also continue to work on the Cost of Generation Model to regularly update changing technology costs over time. Finally, the Energy Commission will work with the California Public Utilities Commission to estimate potential price impacts of the 33 percent renewable target.

The number and size of proposed large-scale renewable power plants makes environmental permitting an increasing concern. Many of these new facilities are proposed in ecologically sensitive areas that could require habitat mitigation and restoration, which must be factored into the costs of the projects. Environmental mitigation issues can also affect project development schedules and project success. To help address these issues, Governor Schwarzenegger's Executive Order S-14-08 establishes the Renewable Energy Action Team to create a "one-stop" process for permitting renewable energy facilities. Also, the Energy Commission will continue participating in efforts with the Department of Energy and the Bureau of Land Management to evaluate environmental impacts associated with permitting solar thermal facilities in California. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission should direct investor-owned utilities to consider the effect of the environmental permitting process on project schedules, milestones, and costs.


Energy Efficiency and Demand Forecasting

In the 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report, the Energy Commission identified the need to clarify and refine its California Energy Demand forecast. Accordingly, the 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update discusses the challenges involved in measuring and attributing electricity savings from energy efficiency programs and other market impacts, such as prices, within the Energy Commission's California Energy Demand Forecast process. It also provides an overview of methods currently used by Energy Commission staff to incorporate energy efficiency programs into the forecast. The chapter then identifies the approach staff will use to clarify the efficiency assumptions in the demand forecast within the 2009 IEPR cycle and beyond as recommended in the 2007 IEPR. Finally, the chapter reports on progress made by California utilities in fulfilling the efficiency requirements of Assembly Bill 2021 (Levine, Chapter 734, Statutes of 2006), which set a statewide goal of reducing total forecasted electricity consumption by 10 percent over the next 10 years.

The Energy Commission staff has begun a process to make efficiency attribution and measurement more transparent to users of the demand forecast, refine and improve modeling methods, and develop efficiency measurement capabilities beyond what is part of the current forecasting process. During the 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report cycle, staff will:

  • Develop standard definitions of terms encompassing all major concepts applying to efficiency potential studies and energy demand forecasts (September - November 2008).
  • Organize and participate in a stakeholder working group designed to address technical efficiency issues and to develop consistent metrics for efficiency analysis across utilities and various agencies (Organized September 2008).
  • Review and compare the modeling methods, inputs, and data sources used in Energy Commission forecasts of efficiency savings with the Itron Asset Model, and compare interim savings estimates from the Energy Commission's demand forecast and the Itron Asset Model for selected programs given common sets of input and modeling assumptions (September - November 2008).
  • Refine and improve the Energy Commission's forecasting models to allow more detailed and complete output of committed efficiency savings (December - June, 2009).
  • Investigate alternative forecasting methods (Ongoing).
  • Develop the capability to make projections of uncommitted energy efficiency (June-July, 2009).

To improve the Energy Commission's demand forecast in the future, the 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report should compare how end-use impacts are characterized in the Energy Commission's demand forecast and in efficiency program planning. Ignoring potential overlap will result in misleading estimates of how much can be achieved through future efficiency strategies. In addition, investor-owned utilities and publicly owned utilities, regulatory agencies, and other interested stakeholders should participate in the working group established in September 2008 that is focusing on technical issues and effectively communicating results to all interested stakeholders. Further, independent efforts to investigate and evaluate alternate forecasting methods should be continued in the 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report and focus on matching methods to the various purposes to which the demand forecast is applied.

The Energy Commission staff should continue to work with publicly owned utilities to understand the processes used by individual utilities to estimate their remaining economic energy efficiency potential and set efficiency targets. The Energy Commission staff should also continue to assist the publicly owned utilities in achieving their efficiency goals through workshops and collaborative efforts, while also encouraging them to identify all funding sources available to meet those goals to reflect the state's policy of energy efficiency as the top resource for meeting the state's energy needs.


Electricity Procurement Practices and Resource Planning Activities

The 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report raised concerns about electricity procurement in California and made recommendations to address those concerns. The 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update discusses progress made in implementing those recommendations. The report also outlines reliability and resource adequacy issues associated with moving away from the use of once-through cooling in power plants, as well as the relationship between electricity procurement and the Energy Commission's power plant siting process.

Every two years, the major investor-owned utilities must submit 10-year plans to the California Public Utilities Commission for procuring electricity. Various parties criticized the plans submitted in December 2006 for 2007 through 2016 because they did not allow for comparison across utilities, nor did they adequately evaluate high natural gas prices and greenhouse gas regulation that represent significant ratepayer risk. The California Public Utilities Commission acknowledged the shortcomings in the procurement planning process and in the 2008 long-term procurement plan proceeding is directing the investor-owned utilities to provide a set of plans in 2010 that can be compared and aggregated and that also consider ratepayer risks. The California Public Utilities Commission has developed a set of principles that reflect their desire to evaluate utility portfolios using a standardized, transparent methodology that reflects uncertainties like future natural gas prices and carbon costs.

The Energy Commission staff should continue to collaborate in the California Public Utilities Commission's long-term procurement plan proceeding. In addition, the 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report should assess longer-run (20-year) uncertainties related to electricity demand and natural gas prices and supply. As the California Public Utilities Commission's 2008 procurement proceeding moves forward, other issues related to resource planning beyond 2020 may also need to be included in the 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report, such as how to overcome utility constraints to reducing their portfolios' carbon footprint over the long run.

A second issue related to procurement that was identified in the 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report was how the discount rate used to estimate future natural gas fuel costs makes these costs appear unrealistically inexpensive. This could lead to increased dependence on natural gas-based generation because alternatives such as renewables and efficiency would be undervalued. The 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report recommended applying a three percent social discount rate (lower than the current discount rate which is based on a utility's cost of capital) to future natural gas costs to more accurately reflect the risks of cost volatility of natural gas-based generation. For the 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update, the Integrated Energy Policy Report Committee directed staff to explore the consequences of using a social discount rate.

There is general agreement about the importance of incorporating uncertainty and risk, including fuel price uncertainty, into the overall planning and decision-making process. The Energy Commission anticipates that the California Public Utilities Commission will require the next round of long-term procurement plans to incorporate risk-based portfolio analysis by reflecting a wide range of future natural gas prices and associated gas price risk. The Energy Commission staff will continue to collaborate with California Public Utilities Commission staff to ensure that fuel price risk is properly considered in constructing utility portfolios. The Energy Commission believes that the planning process is a more direct and transparent method to account for potential gas price risk than the adjustment of discount rates, and recommends that social discount rates should not be used to incorporate natural gas price risks. However, the California Public Utilities Commission should consider using risk-adjusted discount rates to compare projects selected in utility solicitations when they refine the bid evaluation process in the long-term procurement proceeding.

A third major issue related to electricity procurement is the potential effect on electricity reliability of retirement or repowering of aging power plants combined with restrictions on the use of once-through cooling in existing and new power plants. In March 2008, the State Water Resources Control Board issued a draft proposal calling for the phased elimination of once-through cooling between 2015 and 2021. A final proposal is expected in January 2009. Accomplishing this could require the refitting, repowering, replacement, or retirement of 19 power plants representing nearly 40 percent of the state's electricity generating capacity.

Aging plant retirement, or repowering and transmission line upgrades, are subjects of an ongoing California Independent System Operator study to be completed in early 2009. Additional analysis is needed on the implications of replacing much of the once-through cooling capacity with preferred resources, like renewables, and natural gas-fired generation that can be dispatched on demand to meet local capacity and grid stability needs. The 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report may need to evaluate how repowering, replacement or retirement of aging and once-through cooling plants interacts with the development of preferred resources like renewables, as well as the consequences of relying on once-through cooling and aging plants for energy and local capacity needs, particularly in the Los Angeles basin.

The final procurement issue relates to how utilities consider progress in the permitting process when evaluating what projects to select for procurement. In the past, invester-owned utlities selected some projects to receive contracts that later faced significant siting and environmental issues that threatened project viability, timely construction, or cost. Projects competing in a solicitation should understand the siting-related criteria that will be used to judge them. In addition, projects should have a high probability of being permitted in the required time frame without major environmentally-related modifications or cost increases.

The California Public Utilities Commission should develop and implement a fully transparent method of ranking projects in the bid evaluation phase of solicitations that is fair, objective, and transparent; considers environmental impacts, the likelihood of obtaining permits, and prior success of bidders in fulfilling contract offerings; encourages competitive offerings, is open to all bidders, and prevents circumvention; avoids unnecessary administrative and transaction costs; expressly identifies how project permitting is considered; and protects commercially competitive information.


Assessment of California's Operating Nuclear Plants

Assembly Bill 1632 directed the Energy Commission to assess the potential vulnerability of "large baseload generation facilities of 1,700 megawatts or greater" to a major disruption due to a seismic event or plant age-related issues. The Energy Commission was directed to adopt this assessment on or before November 1, 2008, and include it in the 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update.

The Energy Commission's Electricity and Natural Gas Committee developed the AB 1632 Assessment of California's Operating Nuclear Plants: AB 1632 Committee Report based on a consultant report prepared by MRW & Associates that evaluated seismic and age-related issues along with other issues like reliability, economic impacts, and waste storage and disposal. The 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update includes a summary of the findings and recommendations from the AB 1632 Committee Report.

California's two operating nuclear facilities, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, fall under the Assembly Bill 1632 requirement. Although two natural-gas fired facilities in California - Alamitos and Moss Landing - have a nameplate capacity greater than 1,700 megawatts, these facilities operate below a 60 percent capacity factor and are not considered baseload facilities.

Diablo Canyon and San Onofre represent 12 percent of California's overall electricity supply. A major disruption because of an earthquake or plant aging could shut down one or both plants anywhere from several months up to a year or even cause the retirement of a plant's reactor.

Each plant faces seismic hazards which can include uncertainties about the type of fault zone near the plant, potential impacts from earthquakes directly below the plants, or ground motion resulting from an earthquake rupture. Non-safety related systems and structures, such as electrical switchyards, are the most vulnerable to damage from earthquake and could result in plant outages lasting weeks or months. A seismic event also poses a risk to spent fuel storage facilities at the plants.

Because of the importance of these facilities to the state's electricity supply, the Energy Commission believes Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison should report in the 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report on their seismic research efforts. In particular, Southern California Edison should develop an active seismic hazards research program similar to Pacific Gas and Electric's Long Term Seismic Program.

Age-related degradation is also a concern because these plants are approaching their fourth decade of operation. Effective maintenance programs and regulatory oversight are essential in identifying aging plant equipment and components since failure to do so could have serious long-term implications. The Energy Commission recommends that effective safety culture and plant maintenance programs be maintained at the nuclear plants along with enhanced oversight mechanisms by the Energy Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations.

An earthquake, age-related plant or equipment failure, or other event could lead to one or both of California's nuclear plants going off-line for extended periods, requiring replacement power from other sources. The reliability, cost, and environmental implications of using replacement power will depend on the time of the outage and type of replacement power available. The Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Independent System Operator should evaluate the uncertainties of losing the electricity supplied by the state's nuclear plants and modify the long-term planning and procurement processes to ensure that replacement resources are acquired in a timely way.

Diablo Canyon and San Onofre have been operating for roughly half of their 40-year initial license periods, and Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison are exploring the feasibility of seeking 20-year license renewals from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Diablo Canyon Unit 1's operating license expires in 2024 and Unit 2's expires in 2025, while San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Units 2 and 3's operating licenses expire in 2022. If license renewals are granted, these facilities could continue to operate until the early to mid 2040s.

These plants produce significant quantities of radioactive waste in the form of spent fuel and other radioactively contaminated materials. The plants must carefully handle, store, transport, and dispose of the waste to protect humans and the environment from exposure to radioactive materials. As part of license renewal feasibility studies, Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison should evaluate the costs of disposing of low-level nuclear waste generated during a 20-year license extension and provide information on plans for storage and disposal of low-level waste and spent fuel through plant decommissioning.

In addition, the Energy Commission should work with the California Public Utilities Commission, as part of that agency's authority to fund and oversee plant relicensing feasibility studies, to develop a list of issues the utilities should address in those studies, including plant maintenance programs, safety cultures, waste storage, transport, and disposal; seismic hazards; life cycle comparison to alternative generating and transmission resources; contingency plans for prolonged outages; grid reliability; and overall economic and environmental costs and benefits of license extension. The utilities should report on the status and results of the feasibility studies in future Integrated Energy Policy Reports, beginning in 2009.


Evaluation of the Self-Generation Incentive Program

Assembly Bill 2778 requires the Energy Commission to include an evaluation in the Integrated Energy Policy Report of the California Public Utilities Commission's Self-Generation Incentive Program and the costs and benefits of expanding eligibility for the program to renewable and fossil fuel distributed generation. The evaluation is to be done in consultation with the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Air Resources Board.

The Self-Generation Incentive Program was established in 2001 and is one of the largest distributed generation incentive programs in the United States, with approximately 1,200 projects totaling 300 megawatts on-line at the end of 2007. The program originally included microturbines, small gas turbines, wind turbines, solar photovoltaics, fuel cells, and internal combustion engines; however, as of January 2008, only fuel cells and wind energy technologies are eligible for the program.

The Energy Commission selected TIAX, LLC to conduct the evaluation which is presented in the consultant report Cost Benefit Analysis of the Self-Generation Incentive Program. Based on findings and information from that report, the Energy Commission recommends that eligibility for the Self-Generation Incentive Program should be based on the overall efficiency and performance of systems regardless of fuel type. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission should consider re-instituting formerly eligible technologies that operate on landfill gas, digester gas from dairy waste or waste-water treatment processes, or biodiesel. TIAX's review of other technologies and fuel types also suggests that the California Public Utilities Commission should consider providing self-generation incentives for energy storage technologies, since these technologies provide capacity benefits.

Distributed generation can have location-specific grid benefits when sized correctly. The transmission and distribution costs avoided by installing such systems can be quantified with highly accurate customer and utility data. There should be further study in this area to better quantify the locational benefits of distributed generation, but in the meantime the California Public Utilities Commission should require investor-owned utilities to meet a portion of their distribution system upgrades by procuring distributed generation or combined heat and power in areas that provide these benefits to the distribution system.


State Progress on Key Integrated Energy Policy Report Recommendations

The 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update is a real-time, public forum for continuing dialog about California's energy policies. This update examines the progress the state has made in addressing 45 key recommendations made in past Integrated Energy Policy Reports on electricity and procurement issues, energy efficiency requirements, demand response, load management standards, renewable energy issues and goals, distribution system and combined heat and power, nuclear power, transmission, natural gas, transportation, petroleum infrastructure, land use, and water/energy. The 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update ranks the progress of each recommendation as "substantial," "on track," or "needs improvement," and describes progress to date on each recommendation.

 


For more info about the 2008 Integrated Energy Policy Report, please contact:

Suzanne Korosec
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-39
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-654-4516
E-mail: SKorosec@energy.state.ca.us

News media, please call: Media & Public Communications Office - 916-654-4989.